I’ve no idea who decided to call this the Banana Boutique Hotel – I could find no reference to bananas while I was there. It is, nevertheless, a great hotel in the heart of Penang.
For it is situated at the top of Chulia Street, within easy reach of Chinatown and Little India, and walking distance from the ferry terminal and bus stations (though it’s a hot walk if you have luggage). The building has been converted from an old Chinese shophouse, with a fairly narrow front and stretching back through several courtyards. There are internal pools and sitting areas, and the occasional jovial Chinese icon to keep you company.
There are rooms on all floors – as there is no lift anyone with walking difficulties can ask for a room on the ground floor. The windows are stained glass and at first glance the rooms might seem gloomy, but the lack of much natural light means that they are also significantly cooler. The bathrooms are small and functional. Mine – briefly – included a small snake. But that was easily dealt with – and you need to be flexible about wildlife in Malaysia.
I spent much more time in the bar at the front of the hotel than I did in my room. Not only because for the breakfast – or, later, the beer – but because it is such a delightful space. Small trees waft in breeze from ceiling fans. A sturdy wall separates tables from the street (and so keeps hawkers at bay) and yet open gates gives a good view of local comings and goings.
The hotel is popular with young Australians (the hotel helps them with tourist visas for Thailand), and so the bar area can be busy at times. But the young people were all polite, and there was no intrusive noise at night.
The men and women on receptions couldn’t be more helpful. They speak good English, will help with tours or transport inquiries, but are not intrusive if you need to read in peace.
And you are well-placed to walk around this lovely city. There are museums and temples to visit. Ancient Chinese clan jetties to explore. Modern street art to discover.
On top of that – Penang is food heaven. You need never have eat a disappointing meal.
“You’ll find some great pictures of the hotel on this site.”:http://www.bananaboutiquepenang.com/
“If you follow links on the travel pages you can find more pictures from my trip to Malaysia.”:http://www.jocarroll.co.uk